The Johnston's, a family immortalized in song, prose, and legend, are
one of Scotland's most prestigious border clans.
Legend states that the Johnston clan descends from Amlethus, a Danish
Prince. Scholars believe the life of Amlethus inspired Shakespeare's
founder of the Johnston clan was John, 1st Laird of Lochwood
The Clan Johnston crest is a winged spur
and the proud motto reads "Nunquam non paratus" meaning in Latin "Never
In the 13th century, says Lieutenant Charles Johnston in his history of
this family, "There lived in the mountainous district of Annandale,
Dumbriesshire, Scotland, just north of Firth of Solway, a small but
hardy clan of borderers, whose chief was called John. They were
doubtless of Saxon origin, and up to this time were little known. As
the clan grew stronger their Chieftain became ambitious to take his
place among the chiefs of the larger clans. A little after the middle
of the 13th century of chief of the clan applied to the Earl of
Annandale, who was the grandfather of Robert Bruce, to purchase a tract
of land near the center of the district; the deal was consummated, and
it thereupon became necessary to give name to the tract in question;
Bruce, in the charter, called it Jonistourn (now Perth), and this
chieftain, now Lord Jonistoun, was called Sir John de Jonistoun. His
clan was thereafter known as Jonistoun, or Johnistouns, the name now
being spelled Johnstone or Johnston. Some writers have fallen into the
error that the name is synonymous with Johnson, but a glance at the
derivation of the names easily discloses the error; Johnson is derived
from and means the son of John, while Johnston signifies John's Town;
the one shows locality, the other indicates descent."
As the Johnston family grew in stature, they were recognized for their
achievements and service. By 1381, the Crown named a descendent of Sir
John "Warden of the Western Marches". Since that time, several other
generations of our clan have also held the title.
Adam Johnstone was named Laird of Johnstone near the beginning of the
15th century and took part in the Battle of Sark in 1448. Adam's son
assisted King James II in his struggle with the Douglas family and was
rewarded with land near Threave Castle which had previously belonged to
the Douglas's. Adam's eldest son (another John) was the ancestor of the
Annandale branch of the family while another son Mathew is said to have
married a daughter of the Earl of Angus (chief of the Red Douglas's) and
his descendants formed the Westerhall branch.
The Johnstones were one of the many Border families who frequently
raided the north of England over the centuries. These raids provide
historians with details concerning the blood feud between the Johnston's
and the Maxwell's. The feud lasted nearly three hundred years, until it
was resolved by the intervention of King James VI in 1623.
One of the more notable feud stories tells of our direct ancestress, Sir
James Johnston's wife, finding Lord Maxwell dying on the battlefield,
and clubbing him to death with the keys to the castle. Several years
later, Sir James went to meet with the sons of Lord Maxwell to make
final plans for peace, he was subsequently shot and killed.
James Johnstone, the chief of the clan, was made Lord Johnstone of
Lochwood in 1633 by King Charles I and Earl of Hartfell in 1643. King
Charles II elevated him to Earl of Annandale, and Lord Johnstone of
Lochwood, Lochmaben, Moffatdale and Evandal. He was succeeded by his
son James; both were of the Peerage and served in the English House of
In 1701, a descendant was raised to the rank of Marquess of Annandale.
The Johnston's and Scott's were near neighbors in Scotland. Sir Walter
Scott, in his "Fair Maid of Perth," gives considerable prominence to
the Johnston Clan, and adds some verses which run as follows:
Within the bounds of Annandale
The gentle Johnston's ride,
They have been here a thousand years
And a thousand more they'll bide.
Members of the Johnston family continued to serve the government for
many generations. Members of the Johnston family have also distinguished
themselves in service for the United States, at Valley Forge under
Washington, and in colonial legislatures.
William Johnston, our emigrant ancestor, was born in Fermanagh County,
Ireland in May of 1785. He emigrated to the United States in 1816,
leaving Ireland from the port of Sligo on the ship 'Orient' bound for
New York City.
Upon arrival in New York, William made his way into the western part of
Ohio where a relative lived who had emigrated to America when a young
boy. This man was Colonel John Johnston, a well-known federal Indian
William worked for the government for several years at the Indian agency
in Anderson, Indiana. He also transported supplies from Ohio into
Indiana, and rode 'express' with messages for Governor Cass.
In 1821 during the James Monroe administration, William took up land in
Shelby County which was situated in the E1/2SE1/4 of Section 18,
Township 9, Range 5, which contained 80 acres. An early map of Shelby
County shows that 'Nine Mile Creek' runs through this property.
William returned to the employ of the Government for several years and
was sent to the Indian agency in Wapakoneta, Ohio. William left this
position in 1823 to take up residence on the land he had acquired.
Due to the fact that there were two other William Johnston's in the
Shelby County area, our William was known as William Johnston of 'Nine
Mile Creek' and was identified as such when he purchased more land in
On the 12th day of February 1824, William was united in marriage with
Mary (Polly) Wyatt. Mary was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Reese
Wyatt. Mary was a descendant of Sir Thomas Wyatt. Sir Thomas was a
political ally of Queen Elizabeth I and cousin to Henry the Eighth's
second wife, Ann Boleyn. This Wyatt family is of Plantagenet
Henry Wyatt & Anne Skinner).
In 1830 William received his citizenship papers and became a bona fide
citizen of the United States.
Johnston died in April of 1858 and was survived by his wife and eight
children. His will was probated in May of that year. Mary Wyatt
Johnston died in September of 1865. Both are buried in the Johnston
(Swift Run) Cemetery
in Piqua, Ohio.
John Johnston, eldest son of William and Mary Johnston, was born in
Loramie Township, (Shelby County, Ohio) on November 15, 1824. He was a
carpenter by trade, a business he kept for a number of years. He later
turned his attention to farming an 80 acre farm. On April 6, 1848, he
married Miss Elizabeth "Betsy" Black. She was the daughter of Jacob and
Christina Black. By this union they had six children, three of whom
survived. Their names were Mary Ann, Thomas Henry, and John Adam.
John was a township trustee for several years. He died on June 4, 1900.
John and his beloved wife Betsy are buried at the Johnston Cemetery
(Swift Run Cemetery) in Miami County, Ohio.
John Adam Johnston was born August 20, 1865. On January 16, 1890, he
married Samantha "Mantie" Frees, daughter of Peter and Martha (Whisler)
Frees. To this union one son, Parker Lee, was born. John A. and his
family lived in Loramie Township, Shelby County, Ohio, on his
grandfather William's homestead. He was a member of the Order of United
American Mechanics (O.U.A.M.), a fraternal order whose members were
required to purchase products made in the United States and were
strongly opposed the use of emigrant and foreign labor. John A. died on
July 15,1928, and was survived by his wife and son. He and Mantie are
buried in the Green Lawn Cemetery in Versailles, Ohio.
Parker Lee Johnston, my
maternal grandfather, was born to Samantha Jane (Frees) and John Adams
Johnston on May 25, 1893, in Shelby County, Ohio. Dr. Parker, a local
country doctor, assisted in the delivery. After his birth, the doctor
stated that since the child was named after him, he wanted to leave him
a gift, -a pocket knife that he had carried throughout his career. The
knife is now in my possession.
The youth was known to
friends and family as Lee. In his teenage years he was very active in
musicals, plays, and programs sponsored by his church’s youth group, the
Y.P.B. Not every teenage memory was joyfully remembered. While
hunting he was accidentally shot in the chest. He bore a protruding
scar as a lifetime reminder of the wound.
Lee graduated from Houston
High School in 1912 and from Normal School (a teaching program) in 1919.
He became a schoolteacher at Mills school on State Route 66 between
Stoker and Mills Rd. The school still stands today and is used by
After he stopped teaching he
went to work at the Hickock Candy Factory. He became attracted to a
coworker, Florence “Irene” Gueth. Lee discovered that she was attending
the wedding of a mutual acquaintance and promised the bride-to-be a
dozen roses if she would invite him. He then offered the local
librarian, Vera Ginn, who was also attending the nuptials, a box of
chocolate if she would introduce him to Irene. The two were introduced
and thus began their romance. (Many years later Mrs. Rickey showed my
mother, Rose (Johnston) Mann, a picture of herself holding the roses.)
On May 24, 1920, Lee married
Irene Gueth, daughter of Fred and Sarah (Moothart) Gueth, of Anna,
Ohio. Five children were born to this union. My aunts and uncles, by
order of birth are: Mary Eileen -born in 1921, Dale Edgar -born in
1924, Irma Jean -born 1926, Robert Dean –born in 1934, and my mother,
Rosalyn Marie –born in 1936 on their wedding anniversary.
After they married Lee took a job as an insurance agent with the Western
Southern Life Insurance Company, and also sold waterless cookware. He
later started “Johnston’s Typewriter and Adding Machine Service”. His
business brought him notoriety in Auglaize, Darke, Shelby, and
Montgomery Counties. I am also in the possession of an Underwood
typewriter with a cover that bears the name and address of his business,
and one of the advertising postcards he used in the 1950’s.
During World War II, Lee
aided the war effort by applying his natural mechanical abilities at
Sidney Machine Tool Company. He was employed there as a machinist,
working at night while maintaining his business throughout the day.
Lee enjoyed visiting and
talking with people, entertaining Irene’s nieces and nephews, repairing
mechanical objects, visiting his aunt Ora and Uncle Will Agney in
Versailles, and riding his Indian motorcycle. He was a robust man who
carried the Johnston facial features and Irish temper that can still be
seen in members of my family.
In the mid 1950’s Lee developed prostate
cancer. He became very ill and was no longer able to work. On October
09, 1956, Parker “Lee” Johnston died as the result of abdominal injuries
he received in an automobile accident.
Irene, died on September 07, 1987. Both are buried in Pearl Cemetery
near Swanders, Ohio.
Dale Edgar Johnston, my mother’s eldest brother, was born to Florence
Irene (Gueth) and Parker Lee Johnston on April 18, 1924, in Anna Ohio,
at his maternal grandparent’s residence. He was raised in Sidney, Ohio.
Dale was drafted into the United States Army during WWII. In the spring
of 1943 he graduated from basic training at Anniston, Alabama. He was
then sent to combat training in Greenville, Pennsylvania.
He was assigned to the 34th "Red Bull" Division and sent to the European
Theatre. I do not know the chronological order of his assignments, but
have gathered some information from family members and military papers
pertaining to his service in the U.S. Army.
While in Italy, Dale displayed heroism in several battles. At Anzio he
was shot in the hand while defending retreating civilians on a bridge
over the Po River. He also participated in the Battle of Salerno.
Salerno was a beach head where U.S. troops landed and the battle was
very bloody. The Germans held the high ground overlooking the landing
and it was very nearly a disaster for our troops. Other U.S. troops,
(to which Dale was assigned), landed further up the coast, flanked the
Germans and saved the day. In this battle he received a back injury
when an explosion threw him into the rubble of a building.
He also saw action at Monte Casino. Monte Casino was an Italian abbey
on top of a mountain, which the Germans took and fortified as an
obstacle to any further progress up the Italian peninsula. They were
well dug in and heavily fortified and it took immense aerial bombardment
to drive them out after the mountain top had been turned into rubble.
At some point during his tour of combat duty he was required to swim the
Rhone River. He told me that in addition to service in Europe he spent
time in Africa. I am unable to find records concerning this service.
After returning to Sidney he married Helen "Dee" Bynum, and was employed
as a supervisor by the United Telephone Company for many years. He
remained in Sidney until he and Helen separated. At that time he
relocated to Chillicothe, Ohio, with my aunt and uncle, Mary (Johnston)
and Paul Montavon. He later returned to Sidney, and was employed as a
telephone contractor by the Henkle-McCoy Company.
Dale was a tall, lean, muscular man. He was very quiet, and liked
outdoor sports (hunting and fishing). He died of liver cancer on
November 11, 1978.
To review additional information concerning our Johnston lineage, click
©1999, 2009, 2011, 2017.
. . Timothy A. Mann